Kirk to be First Republican to Meet With Court Nominee
Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk is slated to be the first Republican senator to meet with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.Kirk\\\'s office says the senator is scheduled to sit down with Garland on Tuesday.Kirk was the first Republican senator to break with his party and call for a vote on President Barack Obama\\\'s Supreme Court selection. The senator is facing a difficult re-election battle in a Democratic-leaning state and Garland, the chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, is a Chicago native.
The White House says Garland will also continue meetings with several Democrats, including Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Ben Cardin of Maryland on Monday, and Al Franken of Minnesota and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York on Wednesday.In breaking with party leaders earlier this month, Kirk urged his colleagues to \\\"just man up and cast a vote.\\\"The statement by Kirk came two days after Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy created by the February death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Garland, a Chicago native, is chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Kirk\\\'s stance directly contradicts the path charted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., that most GOP senators have followed. McConnell has said for weeks that there will be no Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for any Obama nominee for the vacancy and no confirmation vote by the Senate.\\\"Right, it\\\'s just man up and cast a vote,\\\" Kirk said on the \\\"\\\'Big\\\' John Howell\\\" show on Chicago radio station WLS. \\\"The tough thing about these senatorial jobs is you get yes or no votes. Your whole job is to either say yes or no and explain why.\\\"
Kirk said he believes McConnell won\\\'t relent, saying, \\\"I don\\\'t see his view changing too much.\\\"Kirk is being challenged in November by Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and is considered one of the GOP\\\'s most endangered incumbents.Illinois Democratic Party spokesman Sean Savett said Kirk should \\\"publicly rebuke the strategy of the Republican majority leader he voted for, not predict the strategy\\\'s success.\\\"Democrats in next-door Iowa pounced on Kirk\\\'s comment.
\\\"If our neighboring senator is willing to cast an up-or-down vote on Judge Garland, why isn\\\'t Chuck Grassley?\\\" said former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge, hoping to be the Democratic candidate against the longtime senator and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Grassley has supported McConnell\\\'s refusal to hold committee hearings or a Senate vote.Friday evening, Grassley campaign spokesman Eric Woolson said, \\\"Chuck Grassley is elected by the people of Iowa and he is standing up for the people of Iowa.\\\"
Brussels Bombers Had Planned To Attack France Again Prosecutors
The militant cell behind bombings in Brussels had been plotting to hit France again after carrying out the Paris attacks in November, but was forced to strike closer to home as police closed in, Belgian prosecutors said on Sunday.Investigations into the Islamic State attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people, showed that many of the perpetrators lived in Belgium, including surviving suspects who managed to evade police for more than four months.
Prime suspect Salah Abdeslam was arrested on March 18 in the Belgian capital. Four days later, suicide bombers killed 32 people in Brussels airport and a rush-hour metro train.“Numerous elements in the investigation have shown that the terrorist group initially had the intention to strike in France again,” Belgium’s federal prosecutor said in a statement.
“Surprised by the speed of progress in the investigation, they took the decision to strike in Brussels.”Belgian intelligence and security forces had been criticised abroad for not doing more to dismantle the militant cell, because of its links to the Paris attacks.
As of Friday, all publicly identified suspects were either in detention or dead, but Belgium remains on its second highest threat level, and Prime Minister Charles Michel said his government would remain alert.His comments were echoed by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who said France would not be lowering its guard.
“This is a further sign of the very serious threat facing Europe as a whole and of course France in particular,” Valls told a news conference in Algiers.Abdeslam, born and raised in Belgium to Moroccan-born parents, told a magistrate he had planned to blow himself up at a sports stadium in Paris in November, but backed out at the last minute. His brother Brahim blew himself up at a Paris cafe.
Another man linked to the Paris attacks, Mohamed Abrini, was arrested in Brussels on Friday and admitted to being the “man in the hat” captured on video walking into Brussels airport alongside two suicide bombers.Abrini, 31, has been charged with terrorist murders, prosecutors said.
Another main suspect who was seen alongside the suicide bomber in the Brussels metro, identified by prosecutors as Osama K, was also arrested on Friday in the Belgian capital.Osama K, 28, widely named by media as Swedish national Osama Krayem, was filmed buying the bags used to carry the Brussels bombs.
‘The Voice’ Singer Christina Grimmie Dies After Florida Shooting
Christina Grimmie, a rising singing star who gained fame as a YouTube sensation and contestant on television’s “The Voice,” died after being shot while signing autographs at a concert hall in Orlando, police said on Saturday.The suspected attacker died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after he was tackled by the 22-year-old singer’s brother, police said.Authorities believe the suspect, identified only as a 21-year-old white man, had traveled to the Florida city specifically to carry out the attack Friday evening, though there was still no apparent motive for the shooting.Orlando Police Chief John Mine told reporters the suspect did not appear to have a criminal record and there was no indication he and Grimmie knew each other. Mine said it appeared he may have been a deranged fan.“That’d be speculation, but that’s what it’s looking like. We believe he came here to commit this crime,” Mine said when asked about the possibility.Detectives will search the suspect’s home, cell phone and computer before releasing further information, he added.
Grimmie was signing autographs for fans inside the Plaza Live concert hall at the time of the shooting, around 10:30 p.m. She had just appeared as the opening act for the band Before You Exit.The suspect, who was armed with two small-caliber handguns and a hunting knife, approached Grimmie and opened fire before being tackled by the singer’s brother, an act that police said probably saved lives.Grimmie was taken to a local hospital in critical condition and died early Saturday morning. The suspect died at the scene of the shooting.Although patrons had their bags and purses checked for weapons at the venue, there were no metal detectors and the security guards were unarmed, Mine said.The attack, the latest high-profile shooting to rock the country, drew a quick response from anti-gun activists.
“While the details of this shooting are still being investigated, one thing we already know is that there is so much more Florida policymakers can do to prevent gun violence and keep guns out of dangerous hands,” said Dan Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.A New Jersey native, Grimmie first gained attention several years ago for her YouTube videos featuring covers of pop songs, which drew millions of views. In 2014, she placed third on the “The Voice,” a singing competition broadcast on NBC.
Fans took to social media to express their sorrow, with the hashtag #RIPChristina trending on Twitter.“There are no words,” tweeted “The Voice” early on Saturday. “We lost a beautiful soul with an amazing voice.”Josh Kaufman, who beat out Grimmie to win the 2014 season of “The Voice,” tweeted, “My deepest and most sincere condolences go out to the family of @TheRealGrimmie. Such a tragic loss.”Grimmie’s own Twitter account still showed a video she posted on Friday asking fans to come out to see her perform. Her account tweeted a simple message Saturday morning: “The end.” The post was retweeted more than 65,000 times within an hour.
Turkey Widens Crackdown On Military, Judiciary After Failed Coup
Turkey widened a crackdown on suspected supporters of a failed military coup on Sunday, taking the number of people rounded up in the armed forces and judiciary to 6,000, and the government said it was in full control of the country and economy.Overnight, supporters of President Tayyip Erdogan rallied in public squares, at Istanbul airport and outside his palace in a show of defiance after the coup attempt killed at least 265 people.With expectations growing of heavy measures against dissent, European politicians warned Erdogan that the coup attempt did not give him a bank cheque to disregard the rule of law, and that he risked isolating himself internationally as he strengthens his position at home.Broadcaster NTV cited Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag as saying that more arrests were expected on top of the 6,000 people already detained.
Authorities have rounded up nearly 3,000 suspected military plotters, ranging from top commanders to foot soldiers, and the same number of judges and prosecutors after forces loyal to Erdogan crushed the attempted coup on Saturday.Among those arrested is General Bekir Ercan Van, commander of the Incirlik air base from which U.S. aircraft launch air strikes on Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, an official said.“Control across Turkey has been restored and there are no clashes at the moment,” a senior official said, adding that although a few groups of coup plotters were holding out in Istanbul, they no longer posed a risk.“There are still a few important soldiers on the run and being sought. I believe they will be captured shortly,” the official told Reuters.
The crackdown appears to intensify a longstanding push by Erdogan to root out the influence of followers of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.Erdogan accuses followers of Gulen, who was once an ally but is now his arch-enemy, of trying to create a “parallel structure” within the courts, police, armed forces and media with an aim to topple the state.The cleric denies the charge and says he played no role in the attempted coup, denouncing it as an affront to democracy.
Erdogan promised a purge of the armed forces even before the coup attempt was over. “They will pay a heavy price for this,” he said. “This uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army.”At a rally late on Saturday, his supporters demanded that the coup leaders be executed. “Let’s hang them!” chanted the crowd in Ankara’s central Kizilay square. Erdogan told them that parliament may consider a proposal to bring back the death penalty, which has been abolished.Erdogan’s critics say he will use the purge to create a pliant judiciary, eliminating any dissenting voices in the courts.
Some European politicians have expressed their unease about developments since the coup attempt.“We want the rule of law to work fully in Turkey,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. “(The coup attempt) is not a blank cheque for Mr Erdogan. There cannot be purges, the rule of law must work,” told France 3 television.Ayrault said European Union ministers would reiterate on Monday when they meet in Brussels that Turkey – which has applied to join the bloc – must conform to Europe’s democratic principles.
European Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said Erdogan would move Turkey away from the core values represented by the EU and the NATO defense alliance – of which it is a long-standing member – if he decided to use the attempted coup to restrict basic democratic rights further.“He would strengthen his position domestically, but he would isolate himself internationally,” Oettinger, an ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, told Welt am Sonntag newspaper.Some European politicians are also expressing concern about the future of a deal between the EU and Ankara that has helped to slow numbers of migrants crossing from the country to neighboring Greece.
Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek took to Twitter to attempt to reassure investors that the Turkish government was in full control of the economy before financial markets opened on Monday.He said it had decided on “all necessary measures” after consulting with the central bank and treasury. He did not specify the measures.“The macro fundamentals of our country are solid. We are taking all necessary precautions. We are strong with the support of our people and strengthened political stability,” he said on Twitter, adding that he planned to hold a conference call with global investors on Sunday.
The central bank said it would provide unlimited liquidity to banks.Erdogan supporters waving Turkish flags also thronged the central Taksim square in Istanbul – scene of mass anti-government protests three years ago – and a smaller crowd gathered outside the gates of the his vast presidential palace complex in the capital.
For at least eight hours overnight on Friday violence shook Turkey’s two main cities. But the coup attempt crumbled as Erdogan rushed back to Istanbul from a Mediterranean holiday and urged people to take to the streets in support of his government against plotters he accused of trying to kill him.The violence shocked the nation of almost 80 million, once seen as a model Muslim democracy, where living standards have grown steadily for more than a decade and where the army last used force to stage a successful coup more than 30 years ago.It also shattered fragile confidence among Turkey’s allies about security in the NATO country, a leading member of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State. Turkey had already been hit by repeated suicide bombings over the past year and is struggling to contain an insurgency by Kurdish separatists.U.S. President Barack Obama has also urged parties on all sides of the crisis to avoid destabilizing Turkey and follow the rule of law.
A successful overthrow of Erdogan, who has ruled the country since 2003, would have marked another seismic shift in the Middle East, five years after the Arab uprisings erupted and plunged Turkey’s southern neighbor Syria into civil war.But the failed attempt could still destabilize the U.S. ally, which lies between Europe and the chaos of Syria.Gulen said the attempted overthrow may have been staged to justify a crackdown.
“As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt. I categorically deny such accusations,” Gulen said in a statement.Erdogan called on the United States to extradite Gulen. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington was willing to help Turkey as it tries to identify those involved, but made clear it would act only if there was evidence against Gulen.Kerry also warned that public suggestions of a U.S. role were “utterly false” and harmful to relations after Turkey’s labor minister suggested there had been U.S. involvement in the plot.
Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted AK Party has long had strained relations with the military, which has a history of mounting coups to defend secularism although it has not seized power directly since 1980.His conservative religious vision for Turkey’s future has also alienated many ordinary citizens who accuse him of authoritarianism. Police used heavy force in 2013 to suppress mass protests demanding more freedom.Erdogan commands the admiration and loyalty of millions of Turks, however, particularly for raising living standards and restoring order to an economy once beset by regular crises.
ISIS Number 2 Killed in US Raid in Syria
The Islamic State group\\\'s second in command has been killed in a US raid in Syria, news reports said Friday.Abd ar-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli was killed this month, The Daily Beast and NBC News quoted unnamed defense officials as saying. Pentagon chief Ashton Carter was expected to confirm the killing at an upcoming news conference, they said.
വായനക്കാരുടെ അഭിപ്രായങ്ങള് താഴെ എഴുതാവുന്നതാണ്.
ദയവായി അവഹേളനപരവും വ്യക്തിപരമായ അധിക്ഷേപങ്ങളും അശ്ളീല പദപ്രയോഗങ്ങളും ഒഴിവാക്കുക.
വായനക്കാരുടെ അഭിപ്രായ പ്രകടനങ്ങള്ക്കോ അധിക്ഷേപങ്ങള്ക്കോ അശ്ളീല പദപ്രയോഗങ്ങള്ക്കോ 24ന്യൂസ്ലൈവ്.കോം , അമ്മത്തൊട്ടിൽ.കോം ഉത്തരവാദിയായിരിക്കില്ല.